x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Helicopter was airworthy before crash at Dubai hotel, report finds

The report gives a detailed breakdown of the circumstances surrounding the crash on January 22, at Atlantis the Palm.

DUBAI // A helicopter that crashed shortly after take-off from a Dubai hotel earlier this year was considered airworthy at the time of the accident, a report has found.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) report gives a detailed breakdown of the circumstances surrounding the crash on January 22, at Atlantis, the Palm.

The 19-page document, published online this week, said the helicopter was considered airworthy at the time of the crash.

The preliminary report suggested the cause was a “loss of control in flight”.

The helicopter was operated by scenic tours company Helidubai. It was making a final positioning flight back from a heliport in Atlantis, the Palm to Dubai International Airport after a full day of use and no commercial passengers were on board.

However, a pilot and a helicopter landing officer were in the aircraft at the time and both suffered serious injuries.

They were flown to Rashid Hospital shortly after the incident, with one in a critical condition.

Larry Pentz, the director of finance at Helidubai, said both had now fully recovered. However, he declined to offer details on the cause of the incident.

“We are coordinating fully with authorities, but the investigation is still ongoing and I am unable to offer any further details at this point.”

The accident happened shortly after take-off. The normal procedure for this daily flight is to ascend and rotate in a northerly direction in order to make a 15- minute journey from Atlantis to Dubai International Airport.

However, on this occasion, the helicopter made a further than optimal rotation. Its ascent was “arrested” 20 metres off the ground, the report said, and the vehicle started to descend.

It hit the ground hard and spun around approximately 50 times. It came to a complete halt after hitting a curb at the edge of the heliport, destroying the rear rotator blades. It is not clear what caused the crash. The wind on the day was “ambient” according to the report.

Both members of the crew were tested for alcohol consumption following the accident, but the results were not given in the report.

The GCAA will publish a full report within 12 months of the crash.

mcroucher@thenational.ae